Michael Vass speaks at Rutgers University on Red Flag laws

Michael Vasquez featured speaker at Rutgers University

The following is the transcript of the speech portion of the event sponsored by Rutgers University YAL (Young Americans for Liberty). Links supporting various quotes and data are provided at the end.

Michael “Vass” Vasquez is a political commentator, with 15 years of experience, and a former Rutgers University student. The subject that Mr. Vasquez is the featured speaker for is gun control, and more specifically Red Flag laws (also known as ERPO or Extreme Risk Protection Orders). The event will feature a Q&A after the speech, and is expected to be livestreamed via NO Soundbites Allowed on social media outlets.

Transcript

“Let me state that this is not meant to be a definitive legal finding or analysis. This is meant to start a discussion and spark understanding in what is proposed, intended, and consequences of #RedFlaglaws.

Michael "Vass" Vasquez in Tioga County
Michael “Vass” Vasquez in Tioga County

Starting from the most recent point, let’s understand the issue at hand. Red Flag laws, also known as ERPO’s or Extreme Risk Protection Orders, are a part of a larger issue of so called “common sense” gun control policy. But what does that really mean?

In a March 27, 2021 NY Times opinion article, columnist Frank Bruni noted, in the affirmation,

“’Gun control’ is probably the most instantly and widely
recognized shorthand for the debate over such laws, and journalism depends on
verbal economy, … I don’t think “gun control”
is the main thing standing in the way of additional measures to protect Americans
from gun violence and to diminish the number and near-instant availability of guns
in a country crazily saturated with them… How we write and talk about any issue
that engenders passionate disagreement is.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/27/opinion/sunday/gun-control-safety.html

We can agree that words are powerful. Even more powerful is the meaning of the words. Or to be more exact the commonly understood meaning of words and phrases – which may not be the same thing.

So what does the Second Amendment mean? Some would say it refers to a Right to hunt, or for State-approved civillian military ownership (essentially the National Guard). Most would say that it allows for American citizens to own non-military firearms (and in some cases military-class firearms) to provide for self-defense from ne’er-do-wells and potentially a Government gone rogue.

That general meaning, supported by the Supreme Court decision of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008 – https://www.oyez.org/cases/2007/07-290) and now disputed by the 9th Circuit Court decision in Young v. Hawaii (2021 – https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2021/03/24/12-17808.pdf), is not absolute but very wide reaching. Coupled with the National Firearms Act of 1934, a civilian can own a machine gun (an actual assault weapon of the military) but only with a very special and limited Federal license.

There are potentially 131,952 licensees as of January 2021, per ATF records (https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/undefined/ffltypebystate01-11-2021pdf/download), with 726,951 machine guns registered as of April 2020 (https://www.atf.gov/file/149886/download). 39,979 of those are found in New Jersey – 3x the number in New York State. In fact New Jersey ranks 5th in the nation for machine gun ownership, outdone only by Georgia, Virginia, Texas, and Florida in that ascending order.

Michael "Vass" Vasquez next to A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft in Orange County, NY
Michael “Vass” Vasquez next to A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft in Orange County, NY

That may sound like a lot of machine guns. If we were to ascribe to the theory that assault weapons are a danger to American lives then obviously this huge number of actual assault weapons would be a leading category of homicides. In fact there have been 4 known cases of assault weapons used in crimes since 1934. The most recent was in Madison County Mississippi in 2019, which resulted in 0 deaths
(https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2019/09/11/canton-ms-shooting-fully-automatic-rifles-brad-sullivan-edgar-egbert/2262741001/)

To look at the data even more closely, according to FBI’s Crime in USA 2019 report (the most recent full report to date) 364 people were killed by all types of rifles. That’s in comparison to 1476 knives and cutting weapons. Yes, knives are 4x as deadly as the so-called “assault weapons” often cited by Joe Biden and other gun control advocates.

Now back to meanings. So far we have defined the most popular understanding of the Second Amendment. and it’s relation to law as well as real world implication. Brief, but established. What else must be defined to have a coherent discussion?

What is an “assault” weapon”? While it is a real term, denoting weapons used by the organized military forces. It’s common usage is more in line with what Bruni is hoping for. A mischaracterization and deception to promote a political agenda.

Assault rifle is a term created in the 1980’s for the purpose of elevating semi-automatic rifles to a more terror-inspiring level. Coined aptly in the land of make-believe, California, the “assault rifle” conjures images of Rambo or Schwartzenegger in an action film – with an endless supply of ammunition to boot. It conflates the concept of firearms
with wanton violence for the roughly 50% of Americans that have little or no experience with actual firearms.

This delusional imagery is compounded by flawed articles by news media. A report from the Daily News in 2016 by Gersh Kuntzman is one example,

“It felt to me like a bazooka — and sounded like a cannon… The explosions — loud like a bomb — gave
me a temporary form of PTSD.”

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/firing-ar-15-horrifying-dangerous-loud-article-1.2673201

Sen. Feinstein has no firearm safety knowledge

Or perhaps you heard Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee describe her experience in a bungled
mix of sensationalism and pure political hype whose connection to reality stopped at the name of the firearm in question.

“I held an AR-15 in my hand, I wish I hadn’t. It is as heavy as 10 boxes that you might be moving. And the bullet that is utilized, a .50 caliber, these kinds of bullets need to be licensed and do not need to be on the street.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/congresswoman-mocked-for-saying-ar-15-is-as-heavy-as-10-moving-boxes-fires-50-caliber-bullets

This fiction relies entirely on the credibility of the institutions providing this political hype. Because it takes about 10-seconds on youtube to debunk the claims as 10 yr old girls definitively prove. We addressed this in several video commentaries ourselves. (https://youtu.be/H4ECUqT6h1M) But the outright lie persists because news media and elected officials are expected to be authorities and above dishonesty – which is factually inaccurate. Especially when they have a political goal in mind.

This brings us to what is a Red Flag (ERPO or Extreme Risk Protection Order) law? It is a series of laws based on the 1999 Conneticutt creation. All laws in the category have these elements in common:

  • a person(s) has a concern about an individual that owns a firearm;
  • that concern is elevated into a warrant to seize property by the Government;
  • the victim is not notified of this until the moment of seizure;
  • Due Process does not exist until after punishment has been enacted;
  • no crime is required nor generally assumed;
  • consequences – such as loss of reputation, income, lifestyle, and children – are
    never considered nor have recourse.
Red Flag laws assault freedom

Pretty amazing, yes?

Red Flag laws, currently existing in some form in 19 States and D.C., all contain these elements. The Bill in the Senate, S.292 by Senator Marco Rubio, contains these elements. Red Flag laws violate the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th, and 14th Amendments as well as Due Process in the judicial system. We covered this extensively in our August 2018 report
(https://www.mvass.com/2018/08/21/red-flag-legislation-a-comprehensive-review-for-ny-and-nation-part-1/),
submitted to members of the New York State Senate and Assembly, prior to the passage of the legislation. That 8,000 word report is based on 6 months of interviews, research, FOIA’s, and over 150 qualified sources.

The result in New Jersey has been more than 200 ERPO actions in the first 5 months alone.
(https://www.nj.com/news/2020/01/nearly-200-people-have-had-their-guns-seized-in-nj-under-new-red-flag-law.html) New York has had at least 624 Red Flag (or ERPO) actions in its first year as of November 2020. At least 1 of those actions caused the death, by suicide (https://www.mvass.com/2020/02/23/response-media-defends-red-flag-laws/), of one of the victims. New York, like every State thus far, does not keep nor report on how many families or children are impacted by this law. Not one Governmental organization, in any State, or elected official has responded to official request to begin counting since our repeated requests in 2018.

But we are specifically talking about New Jersey today. What does the “Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018” say? As submitted by NJ Assemblyman John McKeon and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Benson in 2018, Bill 1217 states
(https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/A1500/1217_I1.HTM):

  • Any person may submit an application to the court (change in final law)
  • the judge may examine, under oath, the person seeking the order and any witnesses the
    person produces
  • the judge shall consider: a recent threat or act of violence by the person;
    the history of threatened use of physical force; evidence of recent or ongoing abuse of
    alcohol by the person; evidence of recent acquisition of other deadly weapons
  • In lieu of the required written affidavit, the judge may take an oral statement
    under oath (changed in final law)
  • A gun violence restraining order shall include: stating the person is entitled to
    submit one written request for a hearing
  • If the person violates subsection b. of this section, the person commits a
    crime of the fourth degree (includes prohibited from controlling a firearm)

There is much more, as there were some minor changes to the final law ceated, (https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/PL18/35_.PDF) but consider what has been stated. Absolutely anyone, including the troll on social media that despises your personal preference on a piece of entertainment they love, can file this ERPO.

  • * Final NJ law adjusts this to ANY family, household member – current or past, and member of law enforcement. Internet is still admissible evidence and/or witnesses. *

That troll can provide witnesses, and they all can make their case orally. Nor is there any required check on the
accuser. This will be done without EVER telling you it is happening, or allow you to defend yourself.

The argument you had with the troll, perhaps even in-person, IS part of the evidence used against you. Especially if you suggest you might follow LL Cool J advice (old reference to the song, Momma said knock you out). And if you happened to buy a hammer, nails, cooking knife, golf clubs, ect. in the last say 6 months, could be longer, that’s proof of violent intent as they have all been used to commit violence and murder.

If you, after the argument with the troll, went out with friends – or even on Friday after work or school – and had 4 beers (https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0315/p1497.html), well you are an alcoholic. Worse if you had even 1 shot in that time. Massively worse if you had mixed drinks instead of beer. Insanely worse if you have EVER done this
before.

Since you have proven how dangerous you are, and there is NO ONE defending you, the judge decides to err on the side of caution. They don’t want the blame for the next mass shooting on them. You get notified, normally somewhere between 5AM to 8AM, by a SWAT team banging harshly on your door.

Hopefully you don’t wake up with a hangover, nor jump up thinking someone is trying to break into your house. God forbid you try to defend yourself (that lead to a man’s death already). That’s when you are told what has happened, as they search your house and take your property – and anyone elses that may be present. But no worries, you get 1 chance to go to court and resolve this – if you can afford the time and lawyer fees.

The choice for victims of assault

Although local media has already reported what happened, you are already barred from schools and anywhere children could be present. You might be fired, or your business suffers, from the negative publicity. Plus the troll now has a legion of followers all attacking you on social media for being a terrorist.

Let me add 2 things to this not quite fictional example. If you had kids, they MUST be removed from your home by the State. If you are so dangerous that your Rights were taken by the court, it is by definition and regulation too dangerous for children. That is true in EVERY State.

But imagine that you are getting threats now. A person, concerned you were at a school or event to kill them and/or their loved ones, confronts you. Say that person has a firearm – legal or otherwise. You scuffle, get possession of the firearm, and subdue the attacker.

Maybe you are a woman and the attacker was a man who was on average 6 inches taller, and weighs some 40 pounds more than you. Good for you that you won. Now you are arrested for violating the ERPO. You possessed and controlled the firearm.

If you think that all is crazy, it is. Now go and read the law. It’s all right there with minor tweaks. In fact, it’s
almost exactly in every ERPO & Red Flag law, proposed or enacted, in the nation. By the way, there is 0 consequences for “misunderstanding” your initial status. Also a direct consequence of the law.

Of course this is not the worst part of the New Jersey, nor any, Extreme Risk Protection Order. This in no way stops a criminal from illegally obtaining a firearm. In no way does this stop a person with criminal intent or mental instability from committing crime or suicide. They can just use a car and/or knife, like as happened in D.C. on April 2, 2021
(https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/suspect-custody-after-car-rams-two-officers-u-s-capitol-n1262917).

There is 0 evidence that Red Plags will stop or reduce anything. Studies have been done and could not show a link between ERPO and a reduction in gun violence nor suicide. Data on homicides by the FBI show no significant change – in any State – if perhaps a general trend of increase.

Let me add this up. Red Flag laws, no matter how named or what slogan is used to gain passage into law, reduce crime. In any State. At any point of time. Ever.

They do violate Due Process. Both as there is no crime required or even suggested for punishment to be enacted. Any attempt to provide a semblance of Due Process happens AFTER-the-fact. The consequences are in many ways irreversible.

ERPO’s do violate the Declaration of Independence and Amendments. From “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to the 14th Amendment Section 1 –

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

But let us speculate, as nothing prior stated has been speculative but derived from law and data as it is written. The one thing that is provided by Extreme Risk Protection Orders is power. The power to attack, with the full force of Government, anyone that is undesireable.

The potential for abuse, both through ignorance and active will, is rampant. It is inconceivable and improbable that in the tens of thousands of actions since 1999, there has not been even 1 case of abuse of these laws, there punitive avalanche against the average citizen.

Which leaves this final thought, the Blackstone Ratio, “[B]etter that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer“. If that is too ancient and British, then there is Benjamin Franklin, “it is better a hundred guilty persons should escape than one innocent person should suffer.” Still too old, ok. How about the reappropriated BLM rally call originally from Malcolm X, “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders, ERPO’s, Red Flag laws, by whatever name, do not create more peace. They do not provide safety. They do not capture or impede the guilty. They never have nor are they designed to do so. Instead they will and do make the innocent suffer and remove freedom.

Mass shootings and gun violence are a problem. This is nowhere near an answer.

Now for your questions…”

Citations

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2007/07-290

Click to access 12-17808.pdf

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/undefined/ffltypebystate01-11-2021pdf/download

https://www.atf.gov/file/149886/download

https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2019/09/11/canton-ms-shooting-fully-automatic-rifles-brad-sullivan-edgar-egbert/2262741001/

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/firing-ar-15-horrifying-dangerous-loud-article-1.2673201

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/congresswoman-mocked-for-saying-ar-15-is-as-heavy-as-10-moving-boxes-fires-50-caliber-bullets

Red Flag legislation: A comprehensive review for NY and nation – part 1

https://www.nj.com/news/2020/01/nearly-200-people-have-had-their-guns-seized-in-nj-under-new-red-flag-law.html

Response: media defends Red Flag laws

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/A1500/1217_I1.HTM

Click to access 35_.PDF

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0315/p1497.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/suspect-custody-after-car-rams-two-officers-u-s-capitol-n1262917

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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